Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Despite pegging the fee for its governorship nomination form at N24 million, about nine out of over 15 aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Kogi State have officially purchased forms for the forthcoming primary.
The implication is that the party still has a strong presence in the state even though the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello is of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Though the chances of the PDP winning the governorship election may depend on the candidate it eventually fields, unless it puts its house in order, defeating Governor Bello, who has indicated interest in the race for a second tenure, may just be a tall dream.
Investigations reveal that, at present, there are interests and personal family feuds, all of which have created deep divisions within the party. One clear instance is the feud between the families of the two dominant PDP figures in the state; former governors Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada.
The battle for control of the party structure between both men intensified in the run up to the state congress and their feud became even more evident recently at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, where the election of party officials took place.
Immediately Ibrahim Idris arrived the stadium, most people sitting at the podium stood up to welcome him, including the governorship aspirants; Tunde Ogbeha, Sola Akanmode , but Wada neither stood nor exchanged pleasantries with him. Minutes later, Idris himself had to approach Wada where he was seated to greet him and shortly after that, Wada left the stadium but returned few hours later. At the end of the congress, it was Idris’s preferred party chairmanship candidate, Sam Uhuotu, who won the election over Wada’s candidate, Mohammed Omuya.
It is alleged that Wada’s younger brother, Musa, who is married to one of Idris’ daughters, is being sponsored to contest against him by Mohammed, one of Idris’s sons and a former member of the House of Representatives member. There were speculations within the political circles that in 2011, Musa was initially Ibrahim Idris’s first choice for governor, but Wada’s father, Ejiga, was the one who insisted that Wada who is the eldest son, be given the governorship ticket. This was said to have irked Mohammed and the other sons of Idris who were said to favour Isa Echocho as the one to succeed their father. A similar tussle for power is also playing out in the APC as Mohammed and Mona Mustapha , the two sons of late Prince Abubakar Audu are at each other’s throat for the APC governorship ticket.
However, in the PDP, those who have obtained their nomination forms from the national headquarters of the party at the time of filling this report are: Idris Wada, Senator Dino Melaye, Abubakar Idris, (the eldest son of Ibrahim Idris), Joe Erico, Aminu Suleiman, Musa Wada, Victor Adoji, Saliu Atawodi and Muhammad Shaibu.
How some of the aspirants stand
Wada Idris: He is a pilot and the immediate past governor of the state who was eased out of power in 2015 by the APC. Being a former governor, Wada is seen by many as an experienced administrator and the best for the job who if given the chance will learn from past mistakes. Pundits also believe that he is highly intelligent, focused and God fearing. The case for power rotation especially to the Kogi East Senatorial district may also work to his advantage.
He is seen by many party members as the one that caused the defeat of the PDP in the state and can therefore not salvage it now. Many expressed doubts about his capacity to succeed in the primary without his erstwhile godfather, Idris, who is now backing his son, Abubakar Idris. Given the huge financial cost of wooing delegates for votes, it is believed that Wada may not be able to singlehandedly fund his campaign.
A quantity surveyor, he is the son of the former governor, Idris, who is regarded as the leader of the PDP in the state. Pundits say he would latch on the influence of his father, who is believed to have the strongest political structure in the state, to get the ticket. If this happens, almost all the notable political actors in the 21 local government areas in the state may queue behind him. It is also believe that Idris has the financial war chest to ensure his son wins the primary.
Idris is believed to be a novice in the art of governance as he has not held any public office before. Some are kicking against his ambition because they believe it’s a way of foisting a political dynasty on the state.
Senator Dino Melaye
He is a two term senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District. He was a member of the House of Representatives between 2007- 2011 representing Kabba/ Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency. He is a vocal critic of Governor Bello. He is seen as the most widely accepted aspirant that enjoys support across the three senatorial districts because of his consistency in challenging Governor Bello’s style of administration openly. He is loved by Kogi workers because he constantly advocates for their salaries to be paid. He is also said to be in the good book of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
His critics within the party describe him as ‘unreliable’ having left the PDP in 2011 when he could not secure his re-election ticket to join the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) which later merged with others to form the APC. He again left the APC after falling out with the party and returned to the PDP.
Again many allege that Melaye was one of the principal actors that betrayed late Abubakar Audu’s political family to support the nomination of Bello who ‘inherited’ the victory of Audu who died shortly before he was declared the winner of 2015 governorship.
He is a security expert who is said to be versatile and full of ideas. He comes from Olamaboro Local Government Area of the state and joined partisan politics in 2017. Erico is said to be one of the financiers of the party when it was in distress.
He is regarded as a “green horn” in politics. Pundits say there is no notable political actor that has queued behind him except few and the few does not have the backing of anyone with a strong structure.
He is a retired Air Vice Marshal from Igalamela/ Odolu Local Government Area of the state who has contested several times. As a retired military officer, he is seen by many that can match force with force with the ruling party if given the ticket. He is also seen as a man with deep pocket that can single handedly fund his campaigns.
He has no widespread appeal across board. His political relevance is said to be limited only to his local government. No notable PDP stalwart is seen backing his ambition
He is an engineer based in Abuja and the brother of former governor, Wada. Some sons of the former governor, Idris, who are said to be working against their brother, Abubakar, were believed to have brought him into the contest on the basis that they will leverage on their father’s good will.
Many see him as a “green horn” that has no backing of prominent party members. He is also seen as a “spoiler” who will likely weaken the chances of his brother, Wada and also Abubakar his brother in-law. Pundits also feel he may not have the resources to fund the campaigns.
So far, not much is known about Victor Adoji, Mohammed Tete, Mohammed Shaibu, and Aminu Suleiman. But it is believed that as the primary draws closer, many will get to know their strengths and weaknesses.